Remembering Tim Rollins

Dara Birnbaum

Just before an opening of my work at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago in the 1980s, I was nervous. All of a sudden, in walked someone looking familiar, accompanied by a few other people (then members of K.O.S.) It was Tim Rollins bringing me the biggest bunch of red roses that I had ever seen. He said that this was to wish me well for the opening and to show his admiration of my work. What a wonderful moment for me—as it picked-up my spirit entirely. This is what Tim did, for all the years following… all the years that I had the sheer pleasure of knowing him. He picked up my spirit. Every encounter with Tim has been filled with his open heart and positive way of being. For several years now we taught together within the Art Practice MFA program at the School of Visual Arts. Tim’s accent—way of speech—had gone, over the years, more and more “Southern.” Perhaps reflecting that of Baptist preachers. That was OK. Although at first I was a bit confused by this change in accent, I then became enamored. All was OK with Tim. The way he treated people in general and the students we had, always with respect that few others provide. He provided a kind of light rarely allowed to glow in this way in the current world of art, in our culture. I love Tim. I love the spirit he so kindly shared with us. Although he will be more than missed, his presence continues to be with me—as I am sure it is also with all those he touched and showed the pathway toward a genuine humane spirit. RIP.


Dara Birnbaum

Dara Birnbaum is an artist.